Martin's Yard

The Brockley Central Interview: Martin Nash, MacDonald Egan 

MacDonald Egan are the company building Martin's Yard, the new live / work development on the site of the old scaffolding yard, off Endwell Street, Brockley Cross. Brockley Central believes this is the single most important development in Brockley since the East London Line so we spoke to Martin Nash, about the project, which is nearing completion:

An artist's impression of Martins Yard

“We’ve completed the piling and the work on the new road will begin in October. We’re aiming to start marketing the development in the first quarter of next year, with construction on track for completion in the first half of 2012.

“It’s one of our biggest-ever developments, an entrepreneurial community for over 200 people. Martins Yard will be a new street, with exits at both ends of the development and continued use of the exit on to Drakefell Road.

“The commercial space is designed for offices and studios, not retail. They are for people with their own small businesses who want to work locally but appreciate the fast access to the city that the East London Line and the train services will give them. The commercial units will range from 400 square feet to 2,000 square feet.

“There is nothing like this in Brockley at present and good design is key to changing market expectations. To attract small business owners, we wanted to build something with a wow factor and something that would create an enterprise community, where businesses can support one another – it can be a little lonely running your own business sometimes.

“The design will encourage a community feel – everyone will have their own front door, there are no internal corridors. It’s a modern take on traditional terraced housing communities. The designs draw on inspiration from beach huts, signal boxes and sky homes. The road will gently snake to create a more intimate space.

“We partnered with Galleons Housing Association to fund the project and that means there will be 12 affordable and shared ownership homes, designed for key workers. It also means that our commercial interest in the project is focused on the business owners.

“This isn’t a residentially-led development with some commercial space to keep the Council happy, quite the reverse. There is relatively little residential space and it’s designed to be an ‘all-day-long’  development, rather than a place that gets deserted during the working day.

“We knew the Council wanted to create high quality space that would attract businesses in to Brockley. That’s what we’re great at. We built Astra House in New Cross and a 50,000 square feet business centre in Islington.

“There will be some incubator units, which the Council will control, giving discounted rates to relatively new businesses with growth potential.

 “Although it’s not a retail or leisure development, it’s important that it feels welcoming and part of the community. The design should draw people in. We’re still working on ideas for how to make the best use of the gatehouse at the front of Martin's Yard.

“There will also be some improvements to the public realm. We’re working on plans to make it safer to cross Endwell Road.

“We haven’t begun to market it yet, but if anyone reading this is looking for a location for their business in Brockley, they should feel to email me.”


Anonymous said...

Has the design changed? On the website they are yellown and look a bit different?

Matt-Z said...

Astra House is no beauty. Has anyone moved into the commercial units at the bottom of it yet? Or were they just a sop to planners? This looks more reasonable as a development and not intrusive or domineering.

Anonymous said...

is this simply an advertisement for the developer?

Tamsin said...

No, it's a welcome update on a project that has been in the wings for about three years. Looks grand and looking forward to it becoming reality.

Monkeyboy said...

It's what it is, an interview with the developer who will obviously accentuate the positive (of which there are many)

This is a comments section (indeed this is a comment) for anyone to comment (there’s a theme emerging here) on the scheme. Questions, likes, dislikes, batshit crazy conspiracies or whatevs.

It’s not replacing or threatening any existing similar provision, looks OK and is tucked away so only need to find the appearance offensive if you decide to visit. Difficult to find much wrong with it, would be interesting to find out if they have tenants lined up or if they are expecting a wait for it to fill up considering it was conceived before the unfortunate economic situation. Hopefully they’ll adjust the rents/prices rather than leaving it empty until the market picks up. A mothballed development would be worse than an empty plot.

Matt-Z said...

Speaking of mothballed / stalled developments, what on earth is happening with the long block of flats on Trundley's Road alongside the East London Line, which has been in progress for years?

fidgad said...

Anon @ 12:50

Your comment has to be one of the most stupid I have ever seen on here.

Go out and play in the street.

Anonymous said...

There should have been a vernacular/traditional development option too and the local community should have decided.

This is hardly inspiring architecture or handsome in a traditional sense.

Anonymous said...

It looks different to the images on the Macdonald site. I wonder which one is the real design

drakefell debaser said...

Hmmm, what does a 'traditional' development look like anon? One made of sticks and thatch or do you mean zero office space and 100%residential?

As someone who's property looks out on this I'm chuffed - it gets rid of a vacant scaffolding yard and will hide the existing business park, which is a tad ugly.

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon 1436 - I believe this is the most up-to-date CGI, although they did give me the image with the caveat that there have been a few tweaks since this. When he says that the final product has to be high quality otherwise they won't persuade the right businesses to move in, I believe him.

@Matt, I think Astra House was home to FE colleges that have been hit by stupid new govt rules on student visas, which decimated the education sector.

Anonymous said...

so will it be a mix of offices and flats?

Ian on the Hill said...

Fantastic. More legoland buildings.

Interesting, and dispiriting, that they should cite Astra House as a shining example.

It's this...thing.

Lou Baker said...

Live/work development.


A concept invented by the same people behind social enterprise.

Basically it means sticking two things together - which are not supposed to go together - with the result being that it does neither very well.

If it were a football team it would be Arsenal Hotspur.

Brockley Nick said...

"More legoland buildings."

Which other buildings in Brockley (or Lewisham) do these look like?

And Astra House wasn't cited as an example in terms of design, but function.

Clarksony said...

If it was a car it would be Japanese design and Italian engineering.

Mb said...

Lou, look at any high street built over the last couple of hundred years. Living over the shop is hardly a revolutionary concept. And social enterprise, fits very well with the Big Society, a concept you fully buy into. If your going to be negative at least be consistent,

Mb said...

...or to quote our prime minister...

i) We will strengthen and support social enterprises to help deliver our public service reforms:

"We will create an independent Big Society Bank, funded from unclaimed bank assets, which will leverage private sector investment to provide hundreds of millions of pounds of new finance for neighbourhood groups, charities, social enterprises and other non-governmental bodies. One of the purposes of the Big Society Bank will be to provide funds to intermediary bodies with a track record of supporting and growing social enterprises. These intermediary bodies will use these funds to support the next generation of social entrepreneurs, and help more social enterprises to win government contracts and receive revenues from our payment-by-results public service frameworks."

Tamsin said...

These pictures might not look very nice but they did do an exhibition/consultation (Anon 30 Sept 14.33) although it was about four or five years ago now. The presentation then was very good - and Nick says it has been "tweaked" since then, hopefully for the better.

Lou Baker said...


Yeah, he's wrong. Social enterprise is drivel.

I have nothing against living above shops.

But, in this development, there won't be shops.

Mb said...

No, they'll be business's, you're splitting hairs

The big society is about finding alternatives to the state providing social services. Delivery of services using private businesses, with contracts, performance measures, competition. its difficult to see how you can embrace Tne big society and not support the concept of a social enterprise.

fattyfatty said...

I dont really get it.
So are they flats located above garages (which are being called 'workshops') to appeal to those people who work from home?

I reckon it will have very little impact on the area or the majority of people who live here however it will improve the appearance of that site so isn't a bad thing.

Brockley Nick said...


They're not garages they're offices.

In terms of why it will make a big impact on the area, I have written about it before, but here's why in a nutshell:

1. It's a big development - a brand new street in the middle of Brockley. Heavy lorries carrying scaffolding have already disappeared from our roads. That's all significant enough in its own right, but...

2. Successful high street communities need trade during the day as well as after work. Brockley is currently a commuter destination (primarily), which means that all the shops, cafes, etc are competing for trade in a few short hours before and after work and at weekends.

This will bring a lot of small businesses in to the area. Those employs will buy stuff locally during the day, thus helping our nearby businesses. There will also be supplier contracts to bid for, which will help other types of local business (eg: taxis, cleaning, catering, supplies, IT, etc). That will help kick start a more healthy local business economy.

3. These businesses will also help to bring in new visitors to the area, who will be coming to their offices and studios. That will have knock-on benefits in terms of more local activity and a higher profile. Brockley is a wonderful place to live but offers relatively few excuses for people to visit. This will help. eg: Come for a meeting and then pop for lunch at the Orchard, etc, etc.

4. Local employment. This will create jobs for the local economy. The businesses will pay rates too.

5. For those people who want to work close to where they live, there is very little supply of space. This has been a common complaint. This will address that supply problem.

This is why everyone bemoans Lewisham's status as a dormitory borough. Having a local business base is very important. Lewisham's base is very weak. So too is Brockley's.

This development will go a long way to fixing that problem.

fattyfatty said...

@ Nick

Hopefully you are right and the wider affect on the area is that our cafes/shops are busier and therefore we get a few more of them. So it will be good for business owners, other residents though I am not so sure .

The street itself seems more of a cul-de-sac to me though, and appears to have no retail offering so not sure anyone apart from residents would ever go down there?

Anonymous said...

It would have been better if they allowed a couple of the commercial units to be retail I think - so you could have a cafe / bar type thing there to add a bit more atmosphere ...

lol said...

or the substance misuse centre

Brockley Nick said...

Yeah, I asked that question. He said that they thought businesses based there would be happy enough to use the stuff in Coulgate Street, etc. whereas a cafe located there wouldn't get enough passing trade.

I take the point about it not being a destination for locals, which is totally true and nor is it designed for that, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are some businesses (like art studios, etc) that attract people in. It won't be a cul-de-sac, because they are opening up the western end.

Giovanni said...

What the hell is an artist studio and how many do we need in the world? It seems like it'll be a flop. Look at the business units just around the corner in Mantle Road. Shutters down.

I think these four storey buildings will be a bit depressing for residents on Drakefell Road who will have lost their view and their privacy.

A Non said...

we need about 346 in Lewisham. I've just invented that number, it's based on the "how many of anything" we need methodology.

I think they look fine and so much beter than the waste land that was there before. I'd prefer the hanging gardens of babylon so your incoherent rage does have some resonance.

bemused anon said...

...and where does it say they will be 'artists studios'? are you reading a different article?

Giovanni said...

My comment is neither rage nor incoherent, thank you. As for this being wasteland, it wasn't. It was a scaffolders yard which, although noisy in the daytime when hardly anyone could hear it, was not visible. This new development of beach huts is three and four storeys tall which takes the piss out of the small degree of privacy overlooked residents should have been entitled to. And as for the traffic impact survey which was done ... it's a joke. As is the planned road entrance opening onto a bend on a busy road.

The original plan says this development will comprise of offices and studios. I know what an office is, even a small one. But what exactly is a studio?

Brockley Nick said...

Giovanni, your post was a classic of naysaying:

"I don't know what this is, but I know it is doomed to failure!"

If you live on Drakefell Road and don't like being overlooked, that's one thing, but the rest of your post was nonsense. Why someone would rather live next to a scaffolding yard than a thriving community, I have no idea, but horses for courses.

Anyway, it's happening and is opening soon, so you'd better get used to it, I'm afraid.

turkworks said...

I think this is an amazing development and can't wait for it to finish.

It will bring nice new cafe's and people to the area. With the Brockley Cross touch up and other exciting live/work schemes happening in the area, Brockley is going to be cooler than Shoreditch!

Anonymous said...

As a Drakefell road resident I am very happy about the new street, which will be a welcome alternative when going to the station (less noisy than Drakefell road). However, has anyone else noticed the first building at the Endwell road entrance? where the walls are supposed to meet, there is big gap between bricks. I am not a builder but surely walls/bricks need to be straight and meet all the way up? What does it say about quality of the built?

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